Safina contemplated retirement after Australia

by: March 12, 2011

Former No. 1 Dinara Safina says that she almost retired after the Australian Open, during which she suffered a 6-0, 6-0 loss to Kim Clijsters. Frustrated by her poor performance, Safina split with her coach Gaston Etlis and hired Davide Sanguinetti, but says she had lost her joy for playing after suffering a massive back injury at the 2009 Australian Open.

“After Australia there was a moment I came to Moscow for the Fed Cup. I said to my mom, ‘I'm retiring,'" said No. 108 Safina, who beat Daniela Hantuchova at Indian Wells, the first time since September that she scored two straight wins. "I said, ‘I don't want any more of this.’ I really honestly said, because for me it was tough, because I knew that I'm gonna start the next week with a new coach. It was a moment that was going in my mind, like, ‘Will I be back?’ Well, [my mom Rausa] said, ‘Come on; be positive.’ I said, ‘It's not about positive or negative. I was not happy being on the court anymore.’ It was tough, because I love the sport. And once you're not enjoying it, you struggle. When you have some bad moments, like your head's falling down. But when you're believing, you're like, ‘Okay, it's not my day. I'm just gonna keep working hard.’” So I change it around to practice, and Davide, he was really positive every time, because there were moments in the practice I would go down. He's like, ‘Come on; keep it up; let's work hard.’ I mean, thank God it's paying off.”

Safina has consistently said over the years that she doesn’t talk tennis with her mother, a famous junior coach in Russia who taught her to play, but this time, she decided that her mother was the only person she could confide in.

"That moment I felt like she was the person who knows me,” said Safina, who will play Sam Stosur in the next round. "That I could really speak it out what I have deep inside, and that was the thing with her. I knew it would also hurt her, but I cannot keep it anymore inside.  So I went to her. She was the closest one for me."—Matthew Cronin

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